Malta should expect many more migrants this year and possibly even in next year, Frontex said yesterday.
The EU’s border control agency has just carried out an in-depth analysis into the latest migration trends and developments on the economic and geopolitical front.
The report was released a few hours before a boat bearing more than 300 immigrants reached Malta last night.
As the ongoing crisis in North Africa, particularly in Libya, continues to unfold, the analysis shows that many involved in the conflict, including hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans and even Libyans, would probably try to cross over to the EU in order to find new pastures.
The improving economic situation in the EU, with demand for labour increasing, is expected to act as a pull-factor.
“We think that after a lull last year, particularly on the Central European Route, which involves Malta, illegal migration is expected to pick up once again,” a Frontex official told The Times yesterday.
“With the economy clearly picking up, the EU is looking much more attractive than it was last year and so we are expecting a new influx. Malta and Italy, being the two main countries on the periphery, will obviously feel the pressure much more than those countries which aren’t on the border,” he said.
Besides the global recession, which according to Frontex played an important part in discouraging illegal immigration in the past two years, the analysis shows that the Libyan-Italian patrols started in 2009 and boosted in 2010 practically stopped the flow from Libya.
Last year fewer than 100 illegal immigrants landed in Malta – the lowest figure in years.
However, as Libyan conflict started, the joint-patrol agreement between Italy and Libya fell by the wayside and the Libyan coastline is now almost a “free for all”.